Some cultures strive on haggling. You go to a store, a yard sale (how to yard sale), or a local flea market and you are supposed to bargain because if you don’t, you will end up overpaying. You might even offend a seller depending where in the world you are.
I grew up in the country where every Sunday, instead of church, we would go to a local bazaar to buy anything from food, fresh produce to clothes, even books and jewelry. The bargaining would start right from the entrance of the market. I perfected my haggling skills over the years. In fact, I enjoyed it.
Haggling can be fun, if it is done correctly. The meaning of “correct” in every country is different. A different set of rules applies to haggling in Istanbul than to haggling with a cable company in the United States.
Our social life is all based on bargaining. We bargain about our allowances, negotiate salaries, bills, discounts, prices. When I moved to the United States, I’d been told that people don’t bargain here. It is acceptable to pay whatever price is named. I took it as a rule, and boy was I wrong. You can still haggle and, in fact, you should. You just have to know where, how and why. In other words, you have to know the “correct” way of haggling.
The Golden Rules Of Haggling (according to Aloysa):
1. Never be aggressive (remember, you are not in Marrakesh souk where the atmosphere itself requires you to be aggressive… in a nice way). Don’t claim a discount because you deserve it.
2. Ask if a company has any special offers or promotions. I noticed quite a few times that unless asked, no one will tell you about the special offers. The retailer might be ready to give a discount to a customer who asks about it.
The same rule applies to a hotel reservation. I always try to call directly and ask about any current promotions. Sometimes you think that websites like hotels.com or expedia.com give you the best pricing. Not necessarily.
3. Threaten to take your business somewhere else. I know, it somewhat contradicts my rule #1. You can threaten politely but firmly. Just make sure you have all the required information before hand (do your homework): competition pricing, conditions and requirements. Sometimes a simple phrase like “I am going to shop around,” might seal the deal.
4. Ask about older (last year’s, for example) models. I think July, August and January are the best months to shop for furniture, cars, appliances, even clothes. Retailers need to make room for a new merchandise when the season is ending. Therefore they can more easily discount older models.
5. If you are paying with cash, always ask for a cash discount. It might work even at a doctor’s office. Just make sure you know the going rates for common procedures and exams. Cash works wonders at car dealerships (other car buying tips). In fact, I think cash can work wonders anywhere. Even when buying a flat screen TV at a store and offering to pay with cash might get you a discount, because a retailer doesn’t have to pay merchant fees on a credit card transaction.
6. Practice, practice, practice. To perfect your haggling technique go to a car dealership. It is a very intimidating place even for experienced hagglers like me. If a dealership is too intimidating, you can start with your neighborhood garage sale.
7. Never make haggling a contest of wills. I never break this rule. The final offer should be beneficial to both parties: the seller should be able to make a profit, and the buyer should get a desired price.
8. Remember, no matter what are you bargaining for, have fun! Haggling is not all about the art of getting a desired object for a low price. It is also about the experience. At least, I think so.